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The site links below should be helpful in understanding the Second Amendment, the two court cases that became the 2008 US Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, issues related to that Amendment, court decisions, and any rights we, as individuals, may have to guns.

Also added are some post-2008 US Supreme Court decisions published in the media.

1. Early Historical Documents: Mayflower Compact, 1620; English Bill of Rights, 1689; Declaration of Independence, 1776; Articles of Confederation, 1781; US Constitution, 1789; Constitutional Amendments, 1868 and 1791.

2. 18th Century Definitions: Arms, Alienable, God-given Rights, Inalienable, Infringe, Inherent, Militia, Natural Rights, Nonjuror, Patrols, Public, Publick, Restriction, Session Laws, Unalienable.

3. 64 Laws in Force on December 15, 1791 (in 12 of the 14 states), Restricting the Right of Individuals to Keep and Bear Arms.

4. Arms and Public Policy: The 1619 American law restricting the sale of private arms; Passing Our Bill of Rights, A Timeline; Five laws in force on December 15, 1791, that required individuals to have or carry arms, independent of the militia and the military; Ten laws requiring individuals to have and carry arms, no longer valid as of December 15, 1791; A 2015 comparison of guns deaths per capita in US States versus the number of eight gun laws in those states; Post Heller views on the question of an individual right in the Second Amendment by 6 of 52 cosigners of an amicus brief filed on September 3, 1999, on behalf of the United States in the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals case US v. Emerson.

5. 45 US Supreme Court Cases from 1856 to 2017 Related to Restrictions on Arms: A list and summaries of the 45 US Supreme Court cases related to restrictions on arms, from the 1856 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision to the most recent in 2017, Peruta v. California.

6. Heller Related Documents: Opinions, Amicus Curiae Briefs, US Supreme Court cases and other court cases mentioned in Parker v. District of Columbia, 311 F.Supp.2d 103, 109 (2004); Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370, 401 (2007); and District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).

7. Post 2008 US Supreme Court Opinions: McDonald v. Chicago (561 US 742) decided June 28, 2010, in which the opinion of the court stated: “We therefore hold that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.”; On April 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court released a per curiam opinion on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., Et Al., Petitioners V. City Of New York, New York, Et Al. (590 U. S. _) as the case was no longer relevant: “State of New York amended its firearm licensing statute, and the City amended the rule so that petitioners may now transport firearms to a second home or shooting range outside of the city, which is the precise relief that petitioners requested in the prayer for relief in their complaint. … Petitioners’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the City’s old rule is therefore moot.”; On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court decided not to take 10 new cases for the next term that dealt with Second Amendment issues.

NEW 8. Post 2008 US Court of Appeals Opinions: Young v. State of Hawaii (No. 12-17808; D.C. No. 1:12-cv-00336- HG-BMK), decided March 24, 2021, by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Argued and Submitted En Banc September 24, 2020). It was an Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, Helen W. Gillmor, District Judge, Presiding. In the Summary of the Ninth Circuit Opinion, under Civil Rights: “The en banc court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an action challenging Hawai‘i’s firearm licensing law, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes § 134-9(a), which requires that residents seeking a license to openly carry a firearm in public must demonstrate ‘the urgency or the need’ to carry a firearm, must be of good moral character, and must be ‘engaged in the protection of life and property.'”

9. National Gun Stats, Unrelated to Our Right to Arms: A 2015 comparison of guns deaths per capita in US states versus the number of eight gun laws in those states; Percentage of adults in each state who live in a household with at least one gun – based on an April 2020 RAND Corp. study.


Note: Since this site went live in January 2019, I have been asked on various occasions for my view of the Second Amendment and any individual gun rights we might have. Not being a lawyer, Constitutional expert or colonial scholar, I have demurred, but, given the apparent ongoing interest in my thoughts on those issues, here they are:

Originally needed for food and protection, guns (arms) were an ubiquitous part of early America and widely distributed. In addition, guns were regulated by the states well before the Second Amendment, and continued to be regulated by states and our federal government since. Notably, the possession and use of guns was not subsequently limited or controlled by our Constitution or its subsequent amendments. I’m unaware that our federal or state governments have ever taken the formal position that all guns should be banned or outlawed or that arms should not be regulated in some way.

Based on the above, from my research and primarily from the information and facts contained on this site, it is my personal opinion that the Second Amendment was only intended for and related to the militia and military. It is also my opinion that we, as individuals, have a natural or inherent right to guns, rights subject to reasonable government regulation.

While said differently, a sentence in the first paragraph in section III of the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Opinion of the Court seems to have come to a similar view, albeit using a different path. That sentence (and footnote from that sentence):

“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” (Footnote: “We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.”)

I read the above sentence and footnote as meaning that we have rights to guns, subject to reasonable regulation.

Given our long history of guns and the substantial loss of human from guns, our right to bear and possess arms and the Second Amendment will likely be discussed, debated and litigated for years to come.

Steven C. Markoff,
April, 2021